“Port City Black and White” is a dialogue-driven book sprinkled with diamond-sharp description. Calling it fast-paced is an understatement. This mystery gallops.

It’s author Gerry Boyle’s second Brandon Blake novel, with Blake appearing here as a too-eager rookie cop in the Portland Police Department. The case Brandon faces involves drug smuggling, Portland’s immigrant community, murder and suicide.

Action gets under way in chapter one, when Blake and fellow investigator Kat, a triathlon runner and lesbian, respond to a 3:55 a.m. noise complaint. Minutes later, they stand in a stinking apartment where a drug-and-alcohol party is just breaking up.

In the apartment, they meet semi-conscious Chantelle, “strawberry blonde, drug haggard but still faintly pretty.”

Here, Boyle the wordsmith shows his skill when Kat and Blake question Chantelle upon discovery that her baby is missing from the apartment:

“They stood and waited. A fly buzzed inside a beer bottle. The refrigerator hummed and rattled. The kitchen smelled of rotting food.

” ‘When did you put him to bed?’ Kat said.

” ‘Jesus, I don’t know. Before Leno?’ Chantelle said.

Again and again, Boyle’s masterful observations make “Port City Black and White” an almost cinematic read.

Blake and his girlfriend, Mia, live together at a waterfront dock on board Blake’s cabin cruiser, Bay Witch. Mia adores Blake. But she wonders if she’ll ever adjust to his 24-7 involvement with police work. In this scene, the two talk about breaking up:

” ‘So you decide whether to stay or go?’ Brandon said. Mia paused.

” ‘I love you,’ she said.

” ‘And I love you,’ Brandon said.

” ‘But I can’t love you and only get this little piece of you back.’

” ‘I know.’

“He squeezed her hand. With his other hand he adjusted his gun.”

Although a mesmerizing page-turner — I zoomed through “Port City Black and White” in four days — its plot isn’t memorable. The storyline, though easy to follow, is rushed. Reading the mystery is like experiencing one high-speed auto chase after another.

The book ends so abruptly that it leaves a reader wondering: Did Boyle suddenly decide to just plain quit his novel?

As unsatisfactory as the ending is, Boyle does use an unusual writer trick when he concludes the book. After a wild wrestling match and shootings, the author throws in post-event news stories about his characters, the stories written by a fictional reporter for the equally fictional Portland Tribune. The contrivance helps readers make sense of the slam-bang ending.

Still, there’s a lot to like in “Port City Black and White,” especially for readers who know Portland streets. Boyle identifies the path of every police pursuit, so Portland-savvy readers get an almost cinematic view of the high-speed chase.

Boyle is a 1978 graduate of Colby College. Afterwards, he worked briefly as a roofer, postman and manuscript reader for a New York publisher.

But newspaper reporting in Maine, he writes, provided tools and experience for writing mysteries.

“My first reporting job was with a weekly in Rumford,” he explains. “It was there that I left my sweaty mark on high-school wrestling coverage. But there was lots of small-town crime in Rumford. I would later mine my Rumford time for my first novel, ‘Deadline.’“

Since “Deadline” came out in 1993, Boyle has written nine Jack McMorrow mysteries, plus the two featuring Brandon Blake. His books have coast-to-coast fans.

Although Boyle’s Portland isn’t the friendly city most tourists discover, the author gives the place a rough-and-tumble realism that likely rings true to its police force.

Lloyd Ferriss is a writer and photographer who lives in Richmond.